By Brad Gray and Ray Hickson
Trainer and jockey quotes for all of the 12 contenders ahead of Saturday's The TAB Everest at Royal Randwick.
1.REDZEL ($7 TAB Fixed Odds)
Peter Snowden: "He looks so much better, he has tightened right up and his coat has come good. It’s amazing how much he has improved from the run. The best part about him is whatever the track throws up he’s going to run well. The setback wasn’t planned, I was disappointed the way it happened and it might have been a blessing. I couldn’t be happier with him at the moment."
Kerrin McEvoy: "He did his normal solo work on his own on Tuesday and passed with flying colours. I had a smile on my face pulling up. Obviously we got beaten last start but there were circumstances we feel. He was a bit out of character which I picked up on straight away so it'll be nice to see him going around his normal leisurely self and that says he's back where we want him. We know he likes a bit of cut in the ground and I'm happy there's been rain around."
2. SANTA ANA LANE ($8 TAB Fixed Odds)
Anthony Freedman: "It’s a wide open race but the market suggests he is a legitimate chance. As long as the track plays fair he will get his chance. I didn’t think he’d end up in a race like this a year ago, he always had the ability but he has become reliable and consistent now. He had a few feet issues which, touch wood, are behind him now and that’s probably the main reason."
Ben Melham: "I think he is really going to peak on the day. That was a beautiful lead up run. I was able to give him a soft ride via the rail and only really asked him to let down a furlong for me and he still had a little bit in the tank. He’ll improve again off the run. He is going better than he has ever gone before. His action is really good, and he has matured a lot mentally this preparation. He was first out of the barriers the other day which I always a good sign, it shows he is fit, happy and healthy. He is in a great headspace and couldn’t be happier with the horse."
3. LE ROMAIN ($21 TAB Fixed Odds)
Kris Lees: "He’s dropping back from taking on Winx at a mile, four weeks between runs so I think he will freshen up nicely for it. Any wet ground will bring him right into the race. We always had this in the back of our mind that if he wasn’t in the field he’d be the first emergency so I prepared him for him running 1200m on the day."
Glyn Schofield: "One thing with Le Romain is you know what you’re going to get. You get a solid performance from a really strong Group One galloper and when there is rain around, anyone who knows him knows how effective he is. He’s run second to Winx in a George Ryder and beaten Chautauqua in a Canterbury Stakes on heavy ground so he has the runs on the board in the conditions."
4. TRAPEZE ARTIST ($7 TAB Fixed Odds)
Gerald Ryan: "I know he hasn't won on heavy tracks but he ran sixth in a Slipper on a heavy 10 and third in a Sires on a heavy 8. He's not hopeless but does perform better on drier tracks. He always hits a flat spot second-up. I thought he would run well and would improve off it. At face value I was fraction disappointed but when I sat down and analysed it after sleeping on it I thought he ran very well. He has bounced off it really well."
Tye Angland: "The main thing we are looking at is to get him to do what he’s done in the past and getting him to peak third up. His form isn’t that bad on wet tracks. Is he better on top of the ground? Yes, most horses are, but he’s not legless. He doesn’t perform the best second-up but third-up he’s rock solid and ready to go. I’m very confident with the horse I’m on and the gate we’ve drawn."
5. VEGA MAGIC ($7 TAB Fixed Odds)
David Hayes: "Last year we made a tactical error, he jumped in front and was dragged back to last in a slowly run race, went the widest and was beaten a closing neck. This year we will definitely be rolling forward and taking advantage of the good neutral gate. We know he can handle soft, heavy we don’t know but that’s the case with a lot of them. He’s had an uninterrupted prep, his gallop on Monday was outstanding and with the blinkers back on he’s ready to rumble."
Damien Oliver: "There is no doubt he is better on top of the ground but it’s not as wet as it gets in the autumn. The fact he has the blinkers on will help him get through the ground. He’s a great chance, he’s a seasoned sprinter and only just got beaten last year. I don’t think there is a standout sprinter and the market reflects that. He’s pretty foolproof, he’s well travelled and can absorb pressure if it is a high pressure race."
6. BRAVE SMASH ($13 TAB Fixed Odds)
Darren Weir: "He had a good half mile gallop (on Monday) and he’s ready to go. I’ve been happy with the horse all the way through and at the same stage compared to last year, he is in better shape. Track condition doesn’t matter, a bit of give in the ground is ideal."
Hugh Bowman: "I think he is a live chance. He has had the perfect preparation and been set for the race. Everything has gone to plan. He has got a mind of his own. He is a quirky horse, in some ways. He wanted to lay in last start so having had a few rides on him has certainly helped. He is a bit arrogant but he pins his ears back and chases with purpose, that’s what I love about him. All reports from the stable suggest he loves wet tracks so the rain around will only enhance his chances."
8. U S Navy Flag ($8 TAB Fixed Odds)
Aidan O’Brien: "Everything has gone smoothly and I am very happy with how he has prepared for the race, as are the guys in Australia looking after him. The ground is a worry because War Front’s (U S Navy Flag's sire) generally like it quick. He is a brilliant sprinter and I just hope the ground doesn’t blunt his speed."
Ryan Moore: "He is a high-class horse with great tactical speed that he can sustain it, as he showed in the July Cup. He won the Dewhurst as a two-year-old when there was an ease in the ground, but genuinely soft or heavy going is a complete unknown for him and would have to be a concern."
9. IN HER TIME ($11 TAB Fixed Odds)
Kris Lees: "I was a little concerned being first-up and having a tough run but she’s come out of it well. Her last serious gallop was on Tuesday morning but she is pretty fit. She’s capable on soft ground and the edge off the track is ideal for her."
Corey Brown: "She showed she is a quality mare the other day being narrowly beaten in the lead up (Premiere). If she can get a nice enough run I am sure she will look the winner somewhere. It doesn’t bother me if we get a bad track or a good track because she has form on both of them. If she can get a nice enough run I am sure she will look the winner somewhere."
10. SHOALS ($7.50 TAB Fixed Odds)
Anthony Freedman: "She’s underrated and with the weather around she should come into it. She’s in good form and fitness, she rarely runs badly so as long as the track is fair she goes into the race in very good shape. A race run like it was the other day would suit her, it was a bit firm for her there so the give in the ground is in her favour."
Tim Clark: “She’ll be right in the firing line as one of the main chances. She ran very well against a fair chunk of the field (in the Premiere Stakes). Her run was excellent and she went into the race with a little bit of improvement. I’m confident she’ll run extremely well. She showed the other day she was up to it. If anything, first up I rode her too close and she was off the bridle a fair way from home in a fast race. The other day they went quick but I was a bit further back and was able to travel into it. She ran through the line and will appreciate any give in the ground.”
11. VIDDORA ($15 TAB Fixed Odds)
Lloyd Kennewell: "I actually like barrier 12, in fairness I’m not worried about it. Joe will take care of business and do what he’s got to do. She’s not a forward runner so 12 isn’t a hindrance to her, she’s going to be midfield or a fraction worse. I’d rather be three wide with cover than four back on the fence. We’ve got choices. It’s great to be here and part of it but we are here to win it, we’re not here to make up the numbers and we believe we can win it."
Joe Bowditch: "So long as she is close enough and has a smooth enough run I think I am on the horse with the best turn of foot in the race. She’s flown under the radar a bit but they will definitely know she is there. She’s been going really well, pulled up fine after her last run and you wouldn’t know she’d been around. She’s been on softish ground and got through it no problems, I don’t think a soft track will bother her."
12. GRAFF ($17 TAB Fixed Odds)
Kris Lees: "I think he’s a very good horse and the one with the most upside in the race. Where he meets some of these others I’m not sure but coming back from that tough 1400m in the Golden Rose he’s fresh and well and I think he will give it a real shake. He just needs that right type of run to show that electric turn of foot he has with the 53kg. All the others are exposed but I think he is very smart."
Brenton Avdulla: "He's been very impressive, he was stiff not to win two runs ago and was probably stiff not to finish closer the other day. He profiles well, 1400m back to 1200m I always like with three weeks between runs, and he handles wet ground. It's whether the three-year-old form is good enough to meet these seasoned older horses but we'll find out. Tulip ran well last year and I don't think she had the profile this horse has got."
17. OSBORNE BULLS ($17 TAB Fixed Odds)
James Cummings: "He's a weapon and has shown a devastating turn of foot in the past but he's up against some extremely fast and strong weight for age sprinters. We've got our feet on the ground with Osborne Bulls but we are confident the horse is at his best to run a big race. There was barely a horse that worked better than him at Osborne Park on Tuesday morning. It wouldn't be the craziest result in the world to see him looming up. He’s as good as I’ve ever had him."
Tommy Berry: "I’ve always kept an eye on him because he has been a horse that went through the grades. He is stepping up in grade again but he was a good winner two starts ago in Melbourne and ran really well in the Sir Rupert Clark. It’s going to be a massive step up into this but he likes soft ground and has drawn a good barrier. With the right run he is in the mix but he has definitely has to go to a new level. It’s a race that’ll have a bit of speed in it and riding a horse with a turn of foot always helps, and coming back off a tough run at 1400m."